Hit­ting the Spot With Leop­ards

The Economic Times - - Breaking Ideas -

When it comes to an­i­mal mas­cots, there is no doubt that the tiger wins paws down. From com­pa­nies and US col­leges to in­ter­na­tional sport­ing events, the Pan­thera ti­gris has been pa­raded in many en­gag­ing or fe­ro­cious avatars. The lion has too had a good run as a mas­cot and logo, most re­cently pow­er­ing the Make in In­dia cam­paign. How­ever, an­i­mal lovers, es­pe­cially fe­linophiles, should be heart­ened to know there’s a new big cat in town, at least when it comes to sport­ing events. For, the un­veil­ing this week of Kheleo, the mas­cot of the Fifa Un­der-17 World Cup 2017 to be held in In­dia in Oc­to­ber, marks the as­cent of the leop­ard — in this case, the elu­sive, en­dan­gered Clouded Leop­ard. He comes not long af­ter Zakumi, a ‘teenage’ leop­ard with spiky green hair that graced the 2010 Fifa World Cup in South Africa, and a snow­board­ing snow leop­ard that was a mas­cot of the 2014 Sochi Win­ter Olympic Games.

Show­ing his pref­er­ence for the fe­line, the then-Rus­sian prime min­is­ter Vladimir Putin had said, “The leop­ard is big, strong, fast and beau­ti­ful. If the Olympic project re­stores at least one segment of na­ture that was lost due to hu­man ac­tiv­i­ties, it will be sym­bolic.” With leop­ards be­com­ing a draw for wildlife tourists in In­dia too, hope­fully, Kheleo the clouded leop­ard’s cheery face will at­tract young foot­ball en­thu­si­asts to con­ser­va­tion ef­forts too.

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